A thousand orchids and Swan Lake…

Such sunny weather in Paris this week. It’s a very calm week for me, not much work from business school, and no rehearsals in the afternoon. But I don’t know why I am feeling a little under pressure and tired. After working a little bit in the morning yesterday, which was a day-off, I decided to go out and enjoy the sun.

Botanical Gardens, Paris

I originally planned to have a relaxing walk under the sun on the left bank of Paris. I fell asleep in the RER C and I missed several stations. Arriving at Gare d’Austerlitz, I saw that it was the first day of the flower exhibition, the “Mille et une orchidées” (A thousand and one orchids). I got my ticket, and here we go.

The sort of green house at the Botanical Gardens, where the exhibition was…

In a sort of a big green house, maybe hundreds or thousands of orchids were displayed. The scenery was heavenly and there was a large variety of species. It was very soothing to the spirit to see these beautiful flowers, as if they were reminding me of the beauty of life, and that all the daily problems are unimportant.

Then I went for a nice long walk in the streets of Paris, before going to the Pré-générale of Swan Lake (Le Lac des Cygnes) at Opera Bastille, and…. it was soooo good! I hadn’t seen Swan Lake live from the audience since a very long time. As a ballet dancer, we just know this ballet, the choreography and the music, too well. I didn’t expect this performance to still strike me at this point, but it did. After all these years, we definitely watch this very same ballet with different focuses. The performance provokes new thoughts, and we see more and more details of the production. And also, for me, a new interpretation of the story. It was such a success. Dorothée Gilbert and Hugo Marchand were perfect in the lead roles, and I also start to see some of my friends doing other main roles which is part of the reason why I felt so excited.

It made me so proud of the Paris Opera Ballet~

Curtain call, Pré-Générale of Le Lac des Cygnes

The day of my first performance

Finally, much to our surprise and joy, the company finally arranged two different casts for the ballet Les Noces of the program Cherkaoui/Goecke/Lidberg. We had a stage dress rehearsal last Friday afternoon, and knowing well that our first performance will be on Monday, I couldn’t stop worrying about it last weekend.

Indeed, Monday had been an intense day. Apart from the first performance of the second cast, it was also the day of a Chinese New Year reception organised by Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office at the Intercontinental Grand Hotel to which I was invited, just next to Opera Garnier. I wouldn’t want to miss this occasion to meet my Hong Kong friends who are living in Paris, the Hong Kong community and to see the performance by talented Hong Kong artists/musicians.

Salon Opera, Intercontinental Hotel Paris

The reception starts at 18h30, and I had to be at Opera Garnier at 19h latest, since the performance starts at 19h30. At the end, I decided to attend the reception from 18h30 to 19h. My sleep quality is not so great recently, perhaps because of the nerves, so I was a little bit worried that I would be too tired…. but I didn’t want to miss anything!

On Monday morning, I told myself, “one thing at a time”. Whenever I am overwhelmed by my schedule, a good mental remedy for me is to stay very focus, doing one thing after another, and to be very rational. I went to morning warm up class, did my cool down, get prepared and ready for studio rehearsal at 14h, then put on my costume (for the first time!), did the stage dress rehearsal, when I encountered difficulties with certain steps or musicality or with my partner, since we didn’t have much time to practice, I tried my best to be incredibly calm and rational: “Ok, this didn’t work. Why didn’t it work? How to resolve the problem? Then try again. Okay, that’s the solution.”

At 16h30, I was physically tired from the dress rehearsal. I gently rolled out my tensed-up muscles with my foam roller and did some stretching in my changing room, went to the canteen to eat a little. Then had a nap.

At 18h10 it’s time to go to the reception. I got dressed up, and it’s just next door.

A Cafe inside the Grand Hotel

I walked (in quite a fast pace) into the beautiful Intercontinental Hotel and each time I got amazed by the beautiful settings and serein atmosphere.

Ceiling of the Salon Opera

This time, the event was held in the Salon Opera, the biggest and the finest of the Hotel. I have never been here before, and was right the way impressed by the breathtaking ceiling. Hidden beautiful places are everywhere in Paris!

It’s time, it’s 19h! I had to go back to Opera for the show. I quickly gathered my thoughts and prepared myself physically and mentally for my first performance.

Makeup session inside Opera Garnier

What I really love at the Paris Opera Ballet is the make-up and hairstyling personnel. It was so nice to see them again, I hadn’t seen them since La Dame aux Camélias. That definitely helped me to overcome a part of my nerves. I put on my costume, when to the Foyer de la Danse for warm up, then go~ Show time.

Finally, much to my relieve, the show went very well for the second cast, and I enjoyed dancing in this ballet. I appreciate this opportunity to be on stage again. My look in this contemporary production is very Japanese, a little manga-feel, with sakura prints on my pink T-shirt and the preferred leaving my now-a-little-too-long hair as in the photo.

I walked out the Opera, I was then starving. I joined some of my Hong Kong friends who just left the reception at the Hotel, for a late dinner in a nice Chinese restaurant.

Première on the new year of the PIG!~

Yesterday was the first day of Chinese New Year. First of all I wish everyone Kung Hay Fat Choy! Good Health and Joy! It is also the day of the Première of the mixed contemporary program Cherkaoui/Goecke/Lidberg at Palais Garnier.

I didn’t dance yesterday night. Apparently, I am now second cast of the program, and will be performing on 11th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 22nd, 28th February. The second cast didn’t get to rehearse much during the preparation process, we will have one stage run this Friday, before our first show on 11th! Very exciting…The weather in Paris had been cold and rainy for days….  But the sun finally came out again yesterday and offered us a nice view of Paris from the studio Noureev:

View of Eiffel Tower from Studio Noureev

And that rehearsal in Studio Noureev was our last work session with the choreographer and his team: Pontus L. , Jens, and Nathanel. This time, I learned a lot about the process of the creation of a new ballet. It requires a lot of time and research, research in the idea of the piece, the music, the message behind (there could be a message behind or not at all), the choreographic material, organisation, castings…….. Freedom is obviously the choreographer’s best friend while creating, yet in most cases, his/her freedom is limited, by the Artistic Direction of the company, the dancers’ desire, the organisation of the company, the size and possibilities of the stage, the competence of the other teams (technique, lighting and sets, musicians), the taste of the audience, the country in which the piece will be premiered ….. etc. It’s a huge project! 

Bravo to all choreographers to your work! The day of the Premiere must be something…. Having no idea of how the audience would react to the new creation, it must be quite scary……

Curtain Call
The stage of Palais Garnier right after the performance, behind the curtain

And it’s Chinese New Year! Les Galeries LaFayette is very eager to celebrate Chinese New Year to attract and satisfy its Chinese clients.

Chinese New Year themed windows at Galeries LaFayette

Sunday with sunlights and good talks~

One day before the Générale of our mixed program Cherkaoui/Goecke/Lidberg. I had one day to stay away from my studies which are getting a little intense and ballet. Today’s weather was great, we havent seen Paris this sunny since quite a long time. Going out for a walk under this weather was heavenly, very relaxing for the mind, body and eyes.

I met some Hong Kong friends and my French teacher from Hong Kong for some good talks. It was so soul-soothing to be able to talk to them in a period when I question a lot about my future.

A day-off and inspiring ideas from other people fuel you up for a week of work.

Shooting in studio Petipa…

In a few days, the contemporary mixed-bill Cherkaoui/Goecke/Lidberg will be premiered in Palais Garnier. Earlier this afternoon, at the end our last studio rehearsal in the Studio Petipa, a shooting team was here for a video shooting. Probably for a teaser of the new production? It reminds me of my lessons in Digital Communication of my business course.
The Paris Opera Ballet has done a lot of work in terms of communication in social medias recently, following the trend.

Yesterday night, I had the opportunity to watch the stage run through of Marco Goecke’s new piece for this evening: Dogs Sleep. I was so excited to watch it finally! Absolutely loved it, I like Marco’s style and universe very much.

The shooting team was playing with lightings, dry-ice smokes and different effects for this teaser shooting. Very fascinating for me to stay behind and watch their work!

Stage rehearsals with live musicians…

Writing this in the wings just before a stage rehearsal of our new production Les Noces.

It is very exciting to discover Stravinsky’s music played by live orchestra and singers.

Les Noces (Stravinsky)

Giant roses on stage!

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Yesterday, we moved from the studio to the stage. The ballet that we are going to perform  in a week is a new creation by Pontus Lidberg, with the music of Les Noces by Stravinsky.

It is very impressive to see big roses dropping down from the ceiling!

Together with this mixed contemporary program is another creation by Marco Goecke, one of my favorite choreographers. Especially because I had a great great experience performing one of his solos on the open-air stage of Varna last summer.

This program will be at Palais Garnier from 5th February to 2nd March: https://www.operadeparis.fr/saison-18-19/ballet/goecke-lidberg-cherkaoui

Archiving memories, in the form of an unsent letter.

A letter to Pauline. Behind this unsent letter is a painful memory.

Memory of a difficult time that made Chun overcome his fears, that made him learn and face his weakness seriously and bravely.

This letter was never meant to be sent to Pauline, yet there were things that Chun wanted to tell her at that moment.

Face challenges and dark periods with courage, or they make you fall, or they make you stronger.

Before you give up, always “硬著頭皮做”. (https://lamchunwing.weebly.com/blog—my-recent-stories/9693533)

Photos taken in Tai Kwun, Hong Kong

Chun was still in Hong Kong only two weeks ago…… his hometown, a place that is home for him but that doesn’t feel like home anymore. Each time he sees impressive changes in the city: New shops, new buildings, new metro lines and stations…..

Among these new places is Tai Kwun, an old police station situated at the Hong Kong Island side. After renovation, Tai Kwun became a place for exhibitions, shops and of course a sort of a museum of the old British Colony.

With a friend, Chun spent some time there…

The most important part of his stay in Hong Kong was of course his time with Ah Ma. At 94 years old, each time when Chun goes back home to see her, Ah Ma has more health problems than the time before.

After Chun’s father got retired, Ah Ma no longer prepare dinner for the family as she had been doing for decennies, as Daddy becomes the chef of the family.

But each time when Chun goes back home, Ah Ma would insist making him this “Ju Pah” (Panfried pork) with tomato sauce. Daddy prepared the rest of the dinner for the family, while Ah Ma cooked this one dish, just for Chun…

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Ah Ma, stay healthy, I love you.

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Hot bath thoughts…

Remembering the time when we would be fascinated by the simple effect of salt crystals melting into water…

Time goes by and a year later, we would not bother giving it a glance…….

Do fascinations, passions and wonders in life eventually fade, taken for granted?

Should we never ever stop seeing Life as if we were as innocent as a child, and never ever stop looking at the bright side of Life?

Exhibition Japonisme/Ponti, and Les Troyens at Opera Bastille

Yesterday, Saturday, Chun went to this exhibition Japonisme/Gio Ponti at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs with a friend. Some of his friends told him about this exhibition about Gio Ponti, a renowned Italian architect, and there he was.

In the first part of this exhibition, Japonisme, were displayed different japanese art pieces. Chun always liked the delicacy of the Japnese art. He didn’t spend the time to study carefully each art piece, he simply walked through the exhibition halls and picked some of his favorites at a first quick glance.

The Ponti part was impressive. Some of the scupltures and objects designed by the Italian architect were always displayed. The artist had different inteesting (and somehow, crazy) ideas and put them into life.

Then in the evening, Chun went to the Générale of the famous French opera Les Troyens, by Hector Berlioz. It is a very long opera, originially composed of 5 acts, and today’s production put it into only 3 parts with 2 intermissions. But it still lasts for 5 hours, from 6pm to 11pm.
Conducted by our Musical Director Philippe Jordan, the orchestra was perfect, the singers too. Chun was however found Dmitri Tcherniakov‘s staging not so convincing. While the first part of the performance was very impressive, with enormous sets moving around the stage and in the end opening up showing the gigantic space of the stage of the Opera Bastille, and also people walking while on fire (oh yes!), the second and third parts happened to be in a psychiatric rehabilitation centre which is not very appealing and not so coherent with the synopsis….

But of course this grand opera is particularly important for the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. The music of our Défilé is from this opera…… A melody that every dancer of the company would know note by note, reminding us of our glorious but also bitter periods.

Point of views…..

Since Chun came back to Paris after a relatively short stay in Hong Kong (8 days), it has been kind of a marathon for him.
While in Hong Kong, Chun naturally preferred spending time with his family then working on his business course. Once back in Paris, the homework, the intense rehearsals for a creation of Pontus Lidberg, a young talented Swedish choreographer, the unpacking and the packing……… he knows that he won’t have a break until this coming weekend!

Chun is writing this during his break between two rehearsals. He came out from a rehearsal during which the atmosphere was quite bad. The choreographer tends to work more with a certain group of dancers, and somehow there’s another group that’s waiting at the side all the time and Chun is part of this second group.

You could say that, sitting there waiting for 6 hours everyday is very boring. But observing how different people react to this situation is interesting:

  • To Chun, it’s not quite a big deal. He is often an understudy in the company and understudies are used to waiting and learning the steps on the sides, out of the attention of the ballet masters or the choreographer.
  • To the soloists who are not dancing, it is very frustrating and annoying. Many of the soloists expressed their anger. They are usually under the spotlight, learning new roles and new steps, having new challenges day after day. This kind of rehearsals is just a scandal. The choreographer and his assistants are to be blamed, for they are not well organised.
  • To the dancers who are part of the group which is dancing in this creation, they understand that a creating process is long and difficult. The choreographer has already a lot of restrictions from the company, the choice of the dancers, the studios schedule, and of course the limited time. They fully understand, and believe that if we cooperate, we could in the end create a fantastic piece.

Time to go back to rehearsal…….

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